Dennis DeYoung stays young with the music of Styx

BMS talks with Styx co-founder Dennis DeYoung ahead of his solo show in Lowel

, Staff

Dennis DeYoung, co-founder, singer and songwriter of classic rock favorites Styx, will hit Lowell tonight for a performance at Boarding House Park as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series.

After parting ways with his original bandmates in 1999, DeYoung has remained active. A solo album called One Hundred Years was released in 2007 and work continued on his stage musical for The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Most recently, he’s been hitting the road in three formats: with a full rock band, on a grand piano with acoustic trio and a full band with an accompanying orchestra. The variety gives DeYoung and his fans a fresh and exciting way to enjoy the music.

Tonight, he’ll deliver the music of Styx. The setlist will be dominated by the band’s greatest hits and fan favorites with singer August Zadra delivering the songs sung by Tommy Shaw.

Earlier this week, we caught up with the ever witty DeYoung via email to discuss the tour, his plans for new music and even a little baseball.

Boston Music Spotlight (BMS): How are you feeling and how is the tour going thus far?

Dennis DeYoung (DD): I never thought I would feel this good at 65. Heck, I feel guilty getting my senior discounts. The other day I found out my hotel room cost 20% less because I have senior status. I had to tell them not to feel sorry for me; I am not dying anytime soon, this is going to cost you.

BMS: Throughout the year, you play acoustic dates, shows with a full band and then ones with a complete orchestra. Do you feel the variety keeps the music fresh for you?

DD: Absolutely. They are all differ and require extra rehearsal time. The acoustic dates require me to play the show at the grand piano instead of a motif. Too much (work) variety if you ask me.

BMS: Do you look at any songs differently in each of these formats?

DD: Sure. We try to match the arrangement to the format. For instance, when I wrote “Lady”, I was influenced by Ravel’s “Bolero”. So when it came time to write the orchestra charts for “Lady”, we added a 90 second piece of “Bolero” in the middle of the song. It was my way of tipping my hat to Ravel.

BMS: Its been a few years since your last studio album. Do you have any plans for recording new material?

DD: Never say never, but at this time I am concentrating on performing all the greatest hits of Styx with my new band. We do not shy away from any of the top songs that people want to hear when they listen to Styx music. You have to go back to the reunion Styx tour in 1997 to hear all these songs performed in one concert by a member of Styx.

BMS: What about a new musical?

DD: My last musical score was for “101 Dalmatians” only a few years ago. My plan is to continue to work on my first musical, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.

BMS: You’ll be making your way to New England this week? Do you have any favorite memories from playing here? Is there anything you like to do during your off time here?

DD: I don’t get to Massachusetts often these days, so it is always good to get back to the area. Unfortunately, the state of touring these days is stop and go. So, I am looking forward to a good lobster dinner and a great show.

BMS: What can fans expect from your upcoming show in Lowell?

DD: They will hear the music of Styx like it is on the record. I have a great band and August Zadra will be adding his voice singing some of the classics such as “Renegade”, “Blue Collar Man”, “Too Much Time On My Hands” and “Fooling Yourself”.

BMS: A question we’re sure your tired of but have to ask, are you open to a Styx reunion?

DD: I have said it many times that if it was up to me, I would still be in the band.

BMS: And a final fun question, how are you feeling about the White Sox this year? What are your thoughts on the acquisition of former Red Sox slugger Kevin Youkilis?

DD: Now that it is a great question. My family and I are big White Sox fans. In fact, my son who is also my lighting director, is at Fenway for the series this week. Youk has been great. All I can say is thank you. I have a got a good feeling about the Sox this year.

BMS: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers.

DD: Yeah, if anyone tries to tell you 60 is the new 40… don’t believe them.

Dennis DeYoung will perform the music of Styx at Boarding House Park in Lowell on Friday, July 20. Tickets for the show are available in advance through the Lowell Summer Music Series website for $34 or for $45 on the day of. Local favorites Farren Butcher, Inc. will open the show.


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